Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to Grow Brussels Sprouts

I have read that brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that not only survive the cold weather, but the flavor of brussels sprouts will improve with a light frost. Brussels sprouts are definitely a vegetable that gives cooler weather gardeners a boost for their gardening buck so to speak.

Brussels sprouts seeds are fairly small so make sure you plant them no deeper than a quarter of an inch. While brussels sprouts may do well in the cold, brussels sprouts seeds will need it to be a little warmer in order to germinate. You can start brussels sprouts seeds indoors before your last frost, but unless you have an extremely short growing season, there really is no need since brussels sprouts will still grow in the colder months.

A slightly acidic soil (6.0 to 6.8 pH) works best for brussels sprouts. First take a pH reading of your soil. It may be fine as is. If you find that your soil is too alkaline (above 7.0), check out the article How to Lower Soil pH. In there you will find some excellent tips to adjust accordingly.

If you need to raise your soil’s level because it is too acidic, the rule of thumb is to add lime or bone meal. For more information on raising your soil’s pH level, check out How to Iprove Acidic Soil in Your Garden. There you will find more tips on your soil’s pH level.

Now that you have the sunny location in your garden picked for your brussels sprouts, you need to know how to plant them. Brussels sprouts are very large plants. Many varieties can grow up to three feet tall with a wide, but shallow, root base. I have read a few spacing options for brussels sprouts. One technique suggests you space out your brussels sprouts every eighteen inches leaving three feet between rows. That is a lot of space especially if your space is limited.

In my experience growing brussels sprouts myself, and watching some friends grow them, planting just a few brussels sprouts plants eighteen inches apart in a square pattern will suffice. Think square foot gardening when picturing what it looks like.

As a side note, just because you live in a warmer climate (Florida, the gulf coast, etc.) does not mean you can not grow these tasty treats. Direct sow brussels sprouts seeds into your garden from mid-October through Christmas.

Fertilize every few weeks with fish emulsion or compost tea to keep feeding your brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are ready to be harvested when the buds are firm. They will usually be the size of large marbles (one inch).

A good companion plant for celery, cucumber and lettuce, one cup of brussels sprouts contains 124% of the daily recommended amount for vitamin C.

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